Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Using “The Task Order Up!” from @daveseah to do #Lean #kanban

February 14th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , ,

I sometimes takes the time to go check David Seah’s website. He’s a talentuous e-Designer with a strong personal interest in productivity and organization matters.

Seeing his latest version of The Task Order Up! (TOU) made me thought that it could very well be used for some (Personal or not) Kanban.

In Personal Kanban, tasks are usually elementary and can move quickly through the kanban. With TOU, what you’ve got is more like a Project that needs to be detailed on the form.

If someone makes use of this, please let us know here (comments below)!

Also, you might be interested in other productivity tools David created.

Reblog: Michaël Ballé “The Trouble with #Lean Experts”

This month column of Michaël Ballé on Lean.org is very interesting (well, like all of what Michael writes!) and deals with Lean experts and the change resistance they’re creating and how to overcome this.

I can’t help but relate this to TWI. If I may remind readers of this blog, TWI setup 4 training programs and worked hard to develop companies at helping themselves:

  • instruct a job (job instruction-JI)
  • improve a job (job methods-JM)
  • maintain good relations with workers (job relations-JR)
  • build a training program (program development-PD)

Indeed, relations at work was of such paramount importance for TWI that they turned it to a whole training program (JR).

But, more important to me is the fact that in almost all of TWI documents, one can read between the lines and see that keeping good working relationships with people was something deemed important.

Michaël reminds us that LEAN = KAIZEN + RESPECT. All too often are we and our own management focused on the KAIZEN part, to the detriment of RESPECT. Indeed, respect is most often not even in the mind of people doing the work. The Lean Promotion Office is often seen as a team of consultants that come and put people back on the right track. How respectul is this?

Lean experts need to remind themselves that people they’re helping, teaching or coaching are not dumb. They know their work, they know where problems are and they have plenty of ideas on how to improve it. There may be other problems elsewhere (which they didn’t investigate because nobody told them they could or gave them time to do so), but, from a constructionist point of view, their reality is… well, theirs! So, should a Lean expert come in and sell them something else as the “real reality”, it’s no wonder s/he gets so fresh a welcoming!

Moreover, when teaching Lean, one must not just teach Kaizen and show Respect. One must teach Lean, which means teaching Kaizen and Respect. TWI knew that; it’s embedded in the documents, for instance when you read on the Job Methods card:

Step 3 – Develop the new method

5) Work out your idea with others

6. Write up your proposed new method

Step 4 – Apply the method

1. Sell your proposal to your boss

2. Sell the new method to the operators

3. Get final approval of all concerned on safety, quality, quantity, cost.

(emphasis mine)

Nowhere in here can you feel of something being enforced onto operators. Isn’t this teaching and showing respect for others and taking into account their skills and experience?

Last thing, teaching respect does not means letting people think you feel they’re not respectful. It’s teaching them how to investigate respectfully other parts of the process than their own, it’s teaching them that they need to do nemawashi (as it’s called in japanese) which is sharing their improvement A3 or proposals (as written in the JM card) with others and amend it where necessary (and better yet, go and see in the first place in order to capture the reality rather than fixing it later in the proposal). People are too often in a nonrespectful environment and tend to act in the same way. Trying to change behaviors with respect to this (and changing them respectfully!) for everyone’s benefits seems to me of utter importance.

#GTD Job Breakdown Sheet “a la” #TWI

February 2nd, 2011 Posted in GTD Tags: , ,

I’m a great fan of Getting Things Done (GTD) and a practitioner since around 2006 (for those interested, I’m full paper except for mail stuff which I organize in “To do” and  “Waiting For” folders. My GTD paper system is the Orgabook that I buy at Orgacity).

I’m doing some internal presentation and coaching for friends that want to jump in the wagon or that, sometimes, fall out of it (please note that I am not affiliated to DavidCo.com nor have been trained by them – though I wish I were)

Being also interested in Training Within Industry “Job Instruction” training method, I lately thought about introducing GTD using this. So, before devising a whole training session, I created a Job Breakdown Sheet for the GTD workflow. There’s quite some work to do, but that’s a beginning.

I’m sharing it here for those that would like to know more. I also have some material I’m releasing on a dedicated web site, though it’s mostly in french: http://gtdnstampf.free.fr/.

Here the JBS: STD GTD Job Breakdown Sheet v1.0 EN

For all the people that think GTD is not for them, I can assure them that GTD is easy once you’ve understand its underlying principles. And trying to teach it is the surest way to better understand them (using GTD builds habits but teaching it clarifies things). Explaining is not enough, you need to try to teach it!

Once again (for search web sites): GTD is easy !

#solutionfocus summary leaflet

I build a leaflet out of public internet information available. Here is the result. Feel free to comment below so that I can improve it!

Solution Focus has a lot in common to Appreciative Inquiry as it is also a strength-based approach.

TRI Solution Focused v1.0 EN

#Change or die! A paper from #FastCompany

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

How resistant people can be? FastCompany published some time ago a very interesting paper on that topic. The paper relates a study done on people in danger od dying because of their overweight and bad eating habits (paper available here).

People would think that when one’s in clear and imminent danger of death, one would be more likely to change? The response is surprisingly “no”.

Just telling someone they need to change is not enough to make them change, even in the face of a personal death risk.

People need to be coached out of their current habits and into the new ones for the change to be sustained with time.

Should I refer to the PDCA model (Shewhart or Deming circle – Yes, I know PDCA is from Shewhart, but a lot of people still thinks it’s Deming’s invention. Hence the two names)… Back to PDCA, I would say that:

  • a lot of energy is expended in the Plan phase, often without too much consideration to whether tghe plan is acceptable for people or maybe just easily feasible. There’s Ashby’s law of requisite variery at play here (stuff for another post byt I’ve already mentioned the Viable System Model as usueable for change)
  • then, as the Plan was not that much adapted to the variety of the things that need to be changed, a lot more of energy needs to be expanded into forcing the Plan down the throat of employees (hint: may this be the cause of employees choking?). Some says it’s the “Do” phase…
  • when we’ve gone through the two preceding phases (and assuming the change did attain its objective), there’s usually not much energy left for Checking the results. Moreover, if the objectives has been attained, there’s nothing to check, as it’s ok, right? Should the objective not been attained, who’s willing to check and hurt oneself in the process (shoot oneself in the foot)?
  • lastly, I guess nobody even considers doing the Act or Adjust phase. Should we get there, some changed already occurred, and “people just need to copy what’s been successful in the pilot team”. Only the other people will suffer the “not invented here” syndrome: because the plan has been forced onto the pilot team, it’s adapted to them. Not to the rest of the organization (requisite variety again, plus people not been involved in it’s conception). Should the initial plan failed, who’s going to throw money at studying a dead body to understand what went wrong? There’s business to do, no time to fiddle with a dead corpse. Move on!

So, how do get that plan into place? I’d say there are at least two possibilities I can see today: one of them is using the famous Kotter model of change in 8 steps or change your paradigm and let the very people of your organization define and conduct the change that’s needed: Appreciative Inquiry is good for that.

Regarding John Kotter, I’ve just read “Our iceberg is melting“: a short novel about change in a penguin colony, very entertaining and explanatory of the model.

Regarding Appreciative Inquiry, that’s a whole domain in itself, please check the Appreciative Inquiry Commons where there’s a lot of material available for free.

May certainty help #PDCA and #Lean?

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , , , ,

It occurred to me that uncertainty may hinder continuous improvement because it prevents action.

Consequently, people who are somewhat certain of their opinions are more willing to act and thus experiment and learn which are two root causes of improvement.

Of course, that implies that certain people are also willing to admit their errors when they act and things don’t happen as they expected. This is the purpose of Checking one’s actions and Adjusting if things went wrong (as in Shewhart/Deming‘s Plan-Do-Check-Adjust PDCA). (When things go well, it’s then time to turn the action into a new standard and diffuse it to whoever might benefit from it – in Lean, this is yokoten.)

Socrates said that you need to act to know if you’re right or not, for if you don’t act you’ll never know.

So, make up your mind, decide and act!

But always remember that you should be knowing just one thing: that you never know (until you act!)

How come #systemsthinking discussions diverge so often?

Pondering on the often out of topic discussions on the LinkedIn Group Systems Thinking World, I came up to this diagram during coffee with colleagues. I guess they’re not going to take coffee with me anytime soon :-/

As you can see, there are only reinforcing loops. The sole balancing loop is in fact preventing the initial topic from being further investigated. The explanation goes something as follow:

  • B1: when the initial topic is discussed, it triggers comments from people given their personal centers of interest, which of course, because the centers of interest are so different, this makes the discussion diverges, which reduces the focus on the initial topic.
  • R1: this first reinforcing loop describes the fact that the more there is divergence in the discussion, the more this triggers further personal centers of interest being mentioned in the discussion, which makes the discussion diverges further and thus make more people to react.
  • R2: Sometimes, someone in the discussion tries to come back to the initial topic, though, most often, through some personal path. So we have a new path which can trigger further comments from other personal topics of interest (I did not show that the new path, although related to the initial topic, could trigger other centers of interest – this is embedded in the new description of the initial topic; a case of fixe the fails, I think).
  • R3: the comments from different personal centers of interest increase the systems thinking view of things (provided there has been some initial interest, but even then, interest can be awaken), which reinforces the link to other centers of interest, which further the comments from different points of view. This loop somewhat describes the self-reinforcing curiosity of systems thinkers.
  • R4 shows the fact that these other centers of interest can also add to the divergence in the mind of the people participating in the discussion

Hopefully, some group rules are being researched that could help in maintaining a discussion going in the initial intended discussion (create a web place where regular summaries of the discussions could be posted, do some Dialogue Mapping, perhaps using InsightMaker which added this functionality just recently).

Reblog: Compassionate #Coaching Evokes Better Results | Business News Daily (#appreciativeinquiry)

Here is a very interesting article on BusinessNewsDaily about coaching people for a positive vision, backed with research on brain imagery: Compassionate Coaching Evokes Better Results | Business News Daily.

Coincidentally (or not?), the research was done at Case Western Reserve University, home of Appreciative Inquiry.

Applications in parenting and management is cited in the article.

New #TWI Materials #mindmap uploaded to @biggerplate

January 18th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

The corresponding mindmap has been uploaded and is now downloadable and viewable from Biggerplate. Content has been reviewed with help from Mark Warren, chief archivist for the Training Within Industry Yahoo Mailing list. Thanks Mark!

For more about this, please re-read my preceding article on TWI materials.

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